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    Understanding Building Regulations for Homeowners

    An overview to building regulations

    Understanding Building Regulations for Homeowners

    Building regulations are enforced by local councils. Usually, the building control department is concerned with planning permission and the planning department.

    The main job of building control departments is to make sure that all buildings are safe and fit to live in for their occupants. If you wish to make an application, you should apply to the building control department of your local council.

    Note that the building regulations outlined here describe the law as it stands in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have different legislation that makes similar demands.

    The changing nature of building regulations

    Continual revision is inevitable in building regulations, as the nature of material, designs and techniques is constantly changing. The history of modern building regulations is one of increasing complexity and perpetual change!

    The first modern building legislation was the Public Health Act of 1845. This Act tried to reduce the risks to the public posed by damp, inferior construction, unsanitary conditions and the risk of fire, as well as the lack of adequate light and ventilation. Later Acts in 1877 introduced the first model by-laws, which were intended as a guide to councils constructing new streets and buildings.

    New legislation, ensuring councils enforced their own standards for all buildings, was introduced in 1936, but it wasn't until 1952 that a new set of by-laws outlined a range of mandatory measures to be followed by all councils. These measures set out the minimum structural standards and performance of a number of materials, helping to enforce national rather than regional standards.

    1961 Public Health Act

    A new set of building regulations for England and Wales was included in the 1961 Public Health Act. These were finally codified in 1965, and implemented by law on 1 February 1966. These regulations, (which excluded inner London), went through a series of changes up to their revision in 1972.

    The adoption of metric measurements in Great Britain in the early Seventies required a redrafting of the 1966 regulations. This was followed by frequent alteration of the regulations, resulting in a major restructuring to make them more comprehensible.

    Updated April 2020


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